Boeing agrees to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge stemming from 2 deadly 737 Max crashes

    Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge related to two horrific crashes of 737 Max jetliners. This comes after the government stated that the company violated an agreement that had been protecting it from prosecution for over three years, according to the Justice Department. The guilty plea will be entered in US District Court in Texas.

    Boeing agrees to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge stemming from two 737 Max crashes (REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo)(REUTERS)

    Boeing was given a choice by federal prosecutors this week – it could either plead guilty and pay a fine as part of its sentence, or face trial on the felony criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the US. The company was accused by prosecutors of deceiving regulators who had approved the plane and the pilot-training requirements.

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    “We can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department, subject to the memorialization and approval of specific terms,” Boeing said in a statement to ABC News Monday, July 7.

    As part of the agreement, Boeing will have to pay the maximum statutory fine, and will be required to invest at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs. However, the deal is not final yet and will need the approval of a federal judge to take effect.

    The plea deal covers only wrongdoing by the company before the crashes, and does not provide immunity for other incidents. The deal covers only the corporation, and not any current or former Boeing officials.

    What are the victims’ families saying?

    The families of the victims of the 2018 and 2019 crashes are unhappy with the development. They have reportedly said they might oppose the plea agreement. They have stated that they must be given an opportunity to file their opposition with the court, a court filing in US District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, has revealed.

    The DOJ’s court filing says that the parties are “proceeding expeditiously to document and memorialize the terms and understandings into a written plea agreement and expect to file the agreement with the Court by no later than July 19, 2024.”

    Some 189 people were killed when the Lion Air jet – a Boeing 737 MAX 8 – plunged into the Java Sea off Indonesia in October 2018. Just five months later, another Boeing 737 MAX 8 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 – crashed near Addis Ababa airport six minutes after the plane took off. All 157 people on board died.

    “This sweetheart deal fails to recognize that because of Boeing’s conspiracy, 346 people died,” said a statement from Paul Cassell, a law professor of University of Utah who represents many family members of the victims of the crashes, according to CNN.

    “This deceptive and generous deal is clearly not in the public interest,” Cassell added.

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